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It Saddens Me Deeply But, Officially, I Never Actually Gave 'Birth' To My Son, Archie

20/01/2017 17:31
Karwai Tang via Getty Images

If you look at the records, he simply doesn't exist, as if he was a somehow nothing more than a figment of my imagination.

But he's so much more than that.

And while Archie was only on this Earth for a few short minutes, he existed to me. He was, and will always be, my little boy and there's not a day goes by that I don't think of him.

You see, according to UK law as it stands, a parent cannot be issued with a birth certificate if the child is born showing no signs of life before 24 weeks.

I want that to change and I'm asking the government to have a rethink.

The way I see it, if a baby is physically 'born' into this world - either through late miscarriage or stillbirth - then the parents should be given the choice of registration, should they wish to do so.

Arbitrary 'week' based limits shouldn't matter.

In my case, Archie arrived at 21 weeks back in 2009 - before the 24 week cut-off period - and therefore we never received a birth certificate.

I know there might be people out there thinking, 'So what? When you're going through a bereavement, what difference does a piece of paper with a name written on it make?'

Well, for me, the clue is in the word 'birth'.

There's nothing at all that can prepare you for the loss of a child.

For many months, I nurtured Archie inside me. We were all so excited to welcome him into our lives.

Yet he tragically passed away.

And yet, despite what I'd been through, there's no record of Archie having been here, despite the impact he had on so many lives.

In the end, he was almost rendered not real.

There was nothing to say that I'd given birth, other than the fact that I was in pieces both emotionally and physically.

To go through such a thing, and then to not even have him acknowledged in an official capacity, was heartbreaking for me.

And what I've learned since my recent baby loss storyline in Coronation Street was aired, is that for many other families who've found themselves in the same position as I did, that little piece of paper can mean everything.

It can help you come to terms with what has happened, feel comfort in knowing that your child won't be forgotten for future generations, and even aid the grieving process.

It's the difference between going home with a certificate and going home with a leaflet for a helpline.

I understand, however, that for others, the situation is completely different, and I respect that.

Some families don't want to go through the agony of having to register a birth when that little light has already been extinguished.

But what I feel is important is that mums and dads should be given the choice of whether they want to register the birth or not, putting them in control.

There's already a petition to reduce the threshold at which a birth registration is required by law for all stillbirths, going from 24 to 20 weeks. You can find it here.

That's a good starting point, and one I'm endorsing.

But I also want the Government to go even further, doing away with time limits entirely and showing some humanity, ensuring that anyone who wishes to register a birth, and death, can do so.

As for Archie, it didn't feel right to scatter his ashes, so we brought him home.

And every year, on his birthday, my family will release a balloon into the sky to celebrate his life.

The charity 'Sands' have been working with Kym on the Corrie storyline. Cheryl Titherly, Improving Bereavement Care Manager at Sands, says: "We know from the many thousands of parents we support that having keepsakes of their baby is very important to them. When a life is so short, there are few opportunities for creating memories. Sands, therefore, encourages all hospitals to offer the option of a Certificate of Birth to parents of all babies who are born dead before 24 weeks. Templates are available to download on Sands' website at www.uk-sands.org."

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